Friday, September 14, 2007

A Perspective From Mars

I get that this is a Georgia political blog, but this war impacts Georgia. We have many bases here, and many troops there. Most of our congressional delegation (including Marshall and Barrow) support the President on the war, as do both of our senators. So, on the heels of last night's declaration that we are in Iraq to stay, grant me just one more post.

James Fallows at The Atlantic.com has a great "man from Mars" perspective on the speech and on the various responses to it. It is well worth the read. He crowned John Edwards and Michael Ware (CNN reporter) the "stars" of the night, and I would have to agree. I don't know how many of you saw the CNN coverage, but Ware was on with Anderson Cooper, and he took on the President like a laser guided missile, tearing apart his argument sentence by sentence, from the perspective of someone who has been reporting from the ground in Iraq for a very long time. Here's a portion:

How long has John Edwards been sounding like this? Wow!
Of the three Democratic responses to the president in this hour on CNN -- Jack Reed, Barack Obama, plus Edwards -- Edwards was by a mile the most impressive. To apply the Man from Mars perspective: if you'd heard of none of these politicians before, based on this sequence you'd immediately assume that Edwards was the dominant one from either party (including the actual president)...Those crisp arguments were all, and only, what Edwards presented. I don't have a transcript, but the gist was: we're patrolling a civil war, nothing matters without political progress, and that's not happening; it's shameful to keep making the link to 9/11 that does not exist, etc. Compared with the last time I'd seen Edwards handling foreign policy questions on live TV, he has come a very long way in knowledge, ability and confidence..
From Obama, the opposite surprise: when did he start sounding like a Senator? So many vagued-up sentences and so little pith? Is this why people have been saying that he's not been doing so well in the debates?
And of course, I have no idea how Hillary Clinton would have sounded in this lineup...

Remember when Anderson Cooper made his break to the big time, thanks largely to his genuinely-outrage-seeming, borderline-impolite questioning of federal officials about Hurricane Katrina? "Brownie" and others would say: we're doing our best. Anderson Cooper (and others) would say: what the hell are you talking about?? There are bodies floating down the street!
That was Michael Ware's approach to the claims in Bush's speech. Is Iraq returning to normal life? Oh, sure, if normal means living in the dark most of the time, huddling for fear of being shot, etc etc etc. There are moments in journalism that can't be faked, when reporters on the ground are so disgusted by what they hear from remote official spokesmen that they just can't contain themselves. That was Ware's reaction this evening, and in a way it was the most important response to the speech.


Over the last month, John Edwards' message has become more clear, more focused and much less guarded. I am thrilled to hear him speaking truth to power, calling it like he sees it and again, leading. A President is, first and foremost, a leader.

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